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Black Diamond Fitzroy Review

   

Four Season Tents

  • Currently 4.4/5
Overall avg rating 4.4 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: March 13, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $699 - $700 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Strong, spacious, three-point self equalizing guy lines.
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, hard to set up, very poor ventilation.
Best Uses:  High altitude climbing
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ August 18, 2013  
Overview
The Black Diamond Fitzroy is a very strong three-person single wall expedition tent. Four moderate quality Easton poles setup from the inside and cross seven times while waterproof-breathable three-layer ePTFE membrane provides durable protection from the elements.

The Fitzroy is one of the strongest single wall tent we've tested, but also one of the most difficult to set up. This is due to its internal pitch that uses 20 small, fragile plastic twist-tie clips to attach the poles. The Fitzroy is the heaviest single wall tent we've tested (7 lb. 1 oz. without its optional vestibule). Its wider footprint makes it less capable of perching on ledges than narrower tents. And there are no dedicated vents – the doors are the only option for air circulation.

Black Diamond hasn't updated the Bibler series in many years and other companies have recently released new tents and updated old ones. The Fitzroy is a very good tent but our testers prefer the Mountain Hardwear EV 3 (for a spacious single wall tent) because it's much faster to pitch, has better ventilation and might be slightly stronger. C'mon BD time to do an update!!!!!!!!!

Check out our complete Four Season Tent Review to compare all of the models tested. Also consider a floorless tent—our testers' favorite type of shelter for 99% of fast and light trips—found in our Ultralight Tent Review.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Performance Comparison
Ease of Setup
Of all the single wall tents we've tested the Fitzroy is the hardest to pitch. You need to crawl inside the tent and fiddle with flimsy plastic twist tie style pole clips. These are thin, hard to use, painful to twist, and simply bad compared to the pole attachment methods that are used on other single wall tents. For example, most tents (Black Diamond Firstlight, Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2, Nemo Tenshi, etc) use velcro loops that are easier and faster to use. Even better, some tents pitch from the outside. For example, the Sierra Designs Convert 2 and Mountain Hardwear EV 2. All of these other tents are faster and easier to pitch than the Fitzroy.

There are also many double wall tents that pitch faster than the Fitzroy. The Hilleberg Jannu and Hilleberg Nammatj 2 are prime examples.

Though ease of setup is only one factor of many to consider when selecting a tent we are disappointed that Black Diamond hasn't updated the Fitzroy, or any tent from Bibler series, in more than a decade!!!!!!!!!! The tent's design is very good but it's also sorely in need of an update.

Click to enlarge
The Black Diamond Fitzroy has a burly pole structure, but archaic pole clips. Tents that pitch from the outside are much easier and likely more reliable over the long-term.
Credit: Max Neale
Weather Resistance
ROCK SOLD protection is the worst conditions. No doubt. This tent has been used on many epic climbs all over the world. We found that it's DRUM TIGHT walls resist fierce gusts like a resilient boxing champion.

Livability
The Fitzroy is viable for three people or provides two with more space than enough space. However, we prefer Mountain Hardwear EV 3 because it has a larger "internal vestibule" that increases comfort slightly.

The tent has virtually no ventilation!!
And we find that ventilation is more important than breathability. The Mountain Hardwear EV 3 has much better ventilation. Ditto with basically all other two-person single wall tents. Largely due to this drawback we found that the Fitzroy is more prone to condensation than other tents. Gotta love it when it "snows" inside your tent.

Click to enlarge
The Black Diamond Fitzroy has virtually no ventilation. The front awning (pictured here) unzips at the top to provide a small amount of airflow. Nearly all other single wall tents have better airflow and are less prone to condensation.
Credit: Max Neale
Durability
The main advantage here is the three-layer ePTFE membrane that's similar to those found on the world's best hardshell jackets. This construction type is used by many tents and is perhaps the most durable single wall tent fabric. The tent corners are heavily reinforced, too. We give this tent 9 out of 10 points for durability because it is super tough.

Weight/Packed Size
The tent weighs as little as 68 oz. or 6 lb. 4 oz. This is much heavier than other two-person single wall tents and also heavier than several ultra bomber double wall tents!! For example, the also ROCK SOLD Mountain Hardwear EV 2 weighs more than a pound less. The Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 weighs less than half as much as the Fitzroy. And the Hilleberg Jannu weighs 3 oz. less and provides more comfort.

Adaptability
The tent must be pitched the same way every time.

Features
We hope that BD updates the Bibler series sometime soon. When they do, the tents will likely be phenomenally good.

Best Application
High altitude mountaineering.

Value
We feel the Mountain Hardwear EV 3 is a better value.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 13, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (2)
4 star: 33%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Mar 13, 2014 - 11:00pm
3rdlake · Backpacker · California
Not sure why they say its hard to set up I have no problem with it.
the first time I set this tent up was in the Sierra's during the winter of 1997 El Nino year,that tells you how long I have had this tent.
I purposely went head on into the first of three predicted storms.Each storm dropped over 3 feet of snow at 10k The purpose of this trip was to test this tent and other gear for my planned Denali trip.I was thoroughly impressed! This tent is the toughest tent to date in my humble opinion.
The reviewer above explained the tent very well so I will not repeat his analysis.I agree with the reviewer but not Gear lab they missed bad on this one.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 6, 2012 - 01:39pm
redpoint · Climber · Vancouver, BC
Having used a Fitzroy for almost 12 years, I completely disagree with Outdoor Gear Lab's review of this tent. To me, the Hilleberg Jannu [the tent the Gear Lab gave top marks to] is the epitome of fiddly and overly complex, while the Fitzroy is dead simple. The Jannu has all these great features on paper, but it seems to me that there's a lot of fiddling to be done when all you want is to climb into your tent.

The Fitzroy is not designed for the High Sierras, this is a tent designed for Alaska, the Pacific NW, Patagonia, and the Himalayas. It's designed for full-on, brutal weather and high winds. After 11 years with this tent, the canopy still sits drum-freaking-tight over the pole structure. If you want a tent for all seasons, this isn't it.

Pitching a tent from the inside does offer some challenges initially [i.e. first time], but with practice, it's super fast. Takes me 10 minutes to pitch this tent securely. The plastic ties seem like an oversight at first, but after 11 years, I've yet to break one, and they're strong. Velcro ties, while easier, will lose their efficacy over time as the velcro wears out. If a tie were to break, you simply insert a new one or on a trip, you could replace with some accessory/para cord. Poles on the inside allow the entire length of pole to be supported, which structurally is far superior to clips etc. I'm not up on pole tech, but perhaps BD could update the pole specification on the Fitzroy. The poles however, are one of the best features of this tent as they are easily field maintainable b/c they don't have any proprietary pole ends etc. They can easily be taken apart in the field unlike a Mountain Hardwear tent I have.

Most, if not all tents flap in the wind, the Fitzroy is literally drum-tight without staking it out. On calm nights/good weather, I don't even bother staking it out. An additional vestibule can be added or omitted, depending on your trip. The tent has two doors, one monstrous one and another smaller one. The large door makes climbing into this tent with bulky outerwear on - very easy. Both doors have a small "eave" that allows for cross ventilation in poor weather. While not designed for warm places, this tent has fantastic ventilation. The canopy is extremely aerodynamic and the steep walls allow great headroom and shed snow well.

Weight - Gear Lab has spec'd the packed-weight which includes all the accoutrements like seam grip, spare stakes etc. The minimum weight is 6 lbs 4 oz. For 6.25 lbs, you get a double door [double doors are critical in a winter/mountaineering tent], super-strong [the poles cross 7 times], big mountain tent. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

My only complaint with the Fitzroy is with the two small elbow pole sections found on two poles. You have to me careful when bending these poles into place. I have snapped one in the past and now carry a spare when using this tent. Once in place they're fine, but you do have to be careful bending the pole. This is the only achilles heel of the Fitzroy.

Don't be put off by Gear Lab's review of the Fitzroy tent - this is easily the best tent ever made. It's easy to get seduced by all the features in a tent like the Jannu and the Jannu has some great design and features, but there's a lot going on. Personally, I want simplicity in a tent. After a long day skiing/mountaineering, I just want to set my tent up fast and crawl in. I want to drop an ice axe and a ski in the stake loops and call it good.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Black Diamond Fitzroy
Credit: Max Neale
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